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2013 John Frederick Lewis Award

Autumn General Meeting
Anthony M. Cummings

The 2013 recipient of the American Philosophical Society’s John Frederick Lewis Award is Anthony M. Cummings for his monograph Nino Pirrotta: An Intellectual Biography. Musicology, the academic study of music in its historical and anthropological contexts, has been a scholarly discipline and doctoral-level university course for just over a century. This book is the first full-scale portrait of one of musicology’s most distinguished and accomplished practitioners. Nino Pirrotta (1908–98) was educated at the conservatories and universities of Palermo and Florence. In the absence of an opportunity to study music history systematically when undergoing his formal education, Pirrotta created his own vision of the discipline, which was and is distinctive. After appointments as librarian at the Conservatories of Palermo and Rome, Pirrotta was named head of the music library and professor of music at Harvard (1956–71) and thereafter professor of music history at the University of Rome (1972–78). His American and Italian pupils are among the most distinguished music historians of their generation.

Anthony Cummings recounts the principal details of Pirrotta’s career: the formal training, the initial forays into scholarly writing, the recognizable methodologies and scholarly concerns. He analyzes and interprets Pirrotta’s writings and identifies the features that characterize the celebrated and venerated humanist. Nino Pirrotta: An Intellectual Biography serves as a consideration of the practices and disciplinary achievements of one of the core humanistic fields of enquiry and of the satisfactions of the entire scholarly enterprise. Cummings has devoted years of work to this book, has interviewed family members and surviving colleagues and students of Pirrotta – in short, has done excellent work in building the portrait that is his main subject with accuracy and care.

Anthony M. Cummings is Professor of Music, Musicology, and Music History at Lafayette College. He earned a B.A. cum laude, with honors in history and in music, at Williams College, and an M.F.A. and Ph.D. in musicology at Princeton University. Prior to his appointment at Lafayette he was Professor of Music at Tulane University. He also has served as Dean of Admission at Princeton, Dean of Tulane College, and Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Lafayette. He is the author, co-author, or co-editor of nine monographic publications, and author or co-author of numerous articles in scholarly journals. Cummings has been a Fulbright Scholar; Robert Lehman Visiting Professor in Residence at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence; and Scholar in Residence at the American Academy in Rome.

In 1935 the Society established the John Frederick Lewis Award with funds donated by his widow. The award recognizes the best book or monograph published by the Society in a given year. The selection committee consisted of Glen W. Bowersock (chair), Professor Emeritus of Ancient History, Institute for Advanced Study; Julia Haig Gaisser, Professor Emeritus of Latin, Eugenia Chase Guild Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, Bryn Mawr College; and Noel M. Swerdlow, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Astrophysics and of History, University of Chicago.